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Auto Trader. I can't believe it. Last week we started with 68 teams and then we went down to 64 and here we are about a week later and March Madness is down to the Sweet 16th. We got a full slate of games on both Thursday and Friday to chop things down to the Elite 8 and back with us another week to look at some of these cool matchups taking place in Madison Square Garden and ultimately out in Vegas, etc. Is Deshaun Tate from Tate's take hoops basketball analyst and the only college basketball expert I go to Deshaun. Thank you for taking the time to hop on right in front of these Sweet 16 games.
No worries. Thanks for having me Jr. I'm right here in the heart of Times Square Manhattan. I don't know if it's on the same thing or not, but I decided to do it outside of the hotel room so you can get a little bit of the ambiance to go along with it. I don't know. Maybe you need me to bring you a cheesecake or something, Jr. What's going on?
No, no, thank you. I could give a damn about Times Square and enjoy that hellhole as much as you want. But on the basketball side, someone who's looking for a slice of pizza and also looking for a cab ride happens to be Tom Izzo. We know that he is certainly looking forward to being in New York City and taking on Kansas State.
He's back here. He got a lot of New York City players on his team and then we got Kansas State who obviously knocked off Kentucky and John Calipari wasn't necessarily happy about that with Marquise Noel. What are you looking forward to? What should we look out for in that game tomorrow?
Man, a lot of horn-punk and I hope it doesn't make for bad radio, but I'll tell you what. This matchup, it reminds me a lot of how I thought about last year where you had an instance and just walk with me for a second. At the very beginning of the season before any game was played, I decided to take Duke to win the whole thing and get to the Final Four. I say that because my biggest concern was in the Sweet 16 matchup with Texas Tech. If they found a way to get past them, I felt really good about their chances to get to the Final Four. Just based off of the matchup alone, and that's how I feel about Michigan State playing against Kansas State on this one. Kansas State maybe not necessarily coming with some of the ties, not that Michigan State has a lot, but coming with some of the ties that Michigan State, or not coming with some of the ties that Michigan State does have. We start talking about those guards, especially based out of New York right here at home, that is where you have Tyson Walker from Michigan State playing up against Noel. In that phenomenal matchup, Noel, I've seen him put up 20 points, 30 points, maybe even a 40 ball earlier this season. Then you have Keontae Johnson, everybody understands, or overstands rather, the unfortunate set of circumstances when he was at Florida State a couple of years ago.
He passed out on the floor and so forth. He's now at Kansas State. They have some of the experience that you need around this time of the year. Maybe not as much the coaching in comparison to Tom Izzo, who has the resume in his first year, and Jerome Pang. But he's done a phenomenal job, and this is expected to be a really, really good matchup. Both teams, very good balance between offense both and defense.
Talk to me about heading out west. We know the nightcap for tomorrow's start of the Sweet 16 will be UCLA and Gonzaga. That should be a highly or hotly contested matchup. Who should we look out for to come out top there?
Can you even lean one way or the other? It's really going to be difficult, too. Very much like Michigan State and Kansas State, it's kind of going to be a 50-50 who wants it more, potentially coming down to the last possession of the game. Both of these teams who made it to the Final Four a couple of years ago where Gonzaga knocked off UCLA to make it to the title game are returning some very key contributors to that Final Four run that both teams made. So that's going to be relatively interesting, if you will. We always talk about Drew Simi, who is one of the players that obviously seems like he's been part of college basketball for quite some time.
But I think it's going to be good. I'll give you one name that you want to keep your eyes and your ears open for, okay? A phenomenal player named Julian Stravitz. Now, I'm not saying he's going to accomplish all the same things as this guy has on the collegiate end or the NBA side, but he reminds me of Draymond Green in terms of his style of play and so forth.
Keep your eyes and ears open for him. I'm going to pick Gonzaga to go ahead and advance on this one. Okay. Deshaun Tate, college basketball expert, is joining us live from New York City right ahead of the Sweet 16 matchups in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Let's go out to the Midwest, though, or I should say the South region. On Friday, we're going to have San Diego State taking on Alabama.
We know all about Darius Miller and, unfortunately, the incident that he was involved in, now having to walk around with security. We know about San Diego State. We've received a ton of calls over the past several days, excited San Diego State fans about potentially what they could do in knocking off Alabama. What do you think about that matchup in particular?
I know this is going to sound crazy and may not necessarily be a popular opinion, but I am going to go with San Diego State on this one. Even when you're dating back to the COVID year, and, of course, I'd definitely hate to be a reminder of the year that it was supposed to be the Final Four in Atlanta. They had some of the best chances to be able to get there. They're returning a lot of the same players from that particular year. If you can remember back, that was the Dayton, the Kansas, the Baylor, and San Diego State expected to be all number one seeds at that time.
Remaining players there from that particular time. When you're talking about Brandon Miller, obviously a lot of attention is going to be paid attention to him per se, but you also got some other interesting pieces there. They got some experience, Javon Quinterly amongst some other guys, but they do have some useful pieces that they do rely upon quite a bit.
Some of the key contributors and so forth. But I do like San Diego State to go ahead and advance, but it's going to be really tough, obviously, with somebody like Brandon Miller on the floor, who I think is completely blasphemous that he is not in the same conversation for National Player of the Year, at least within the three, four, five finalists, him not even being on that list of 10. I think that's somewhat un-American. Deshaun Tate is joining us here at the JR Sport Brief Show CBS Sports Radio. Between Thursday and Friday's games, we got some teams that folks did not expect to be here. We're obviously taking a look at Princeton. If we look at the games that will take place tomorrow, Florida Atlantic is here.
They're talking about how they're going to get ready for a rugby-type game against Tennessee. What team do you think that shouldn't quote, unquote, be here has the best chance of surprising everybody moving on to the Elite Eight? Yes, that team could be San Diego State. Maybe not necessarily as much Princeton, but I will say Florida Atlantic. Without Zaki Ziegler, the starting point guard for Tennessee, I think that is going to be a difficult task to overcome against a very confident Florida Atlantic team.
We pay so much attention to Princeton and Fairleigh Dickinson in this particular tournament, but don't forget, Florida Atlantic is a mid-major themselves, but they've kind of been overshadowed a little bit. They've got great guards. They're very well coached.
They go very deep onto the bench. They've got a 6'9", 6'10 guy in addition to a seven-footer as well. That could be very difficult for a very experienced, however, Tennessee team without their starting point guard. Everybody knows that you're filling out that bracket. You're talking about surviving. You're talking about advancing. That's something that you have to have is that experienced leadership and that experienced guard play.
Tennessee doesn't have that, but they do have grown men. They're going to be willing to muck it up. Not a lot of offense, a ton of defense, and be a very, very physical team.
It's going to be tough. My answer to that question is definitely Florida Atlantic. I can definitely see them getting all the way to the Elite Eight.
Final question here, and quickly for Deshaun Tate, college basketball expert. Who do you now have readjusted here heading to Houston, Texas in the Final Four? Now that the dust has settled a little bit and we've narrowed things down, who do you see advancing? I'm going to go Houston on to the Final Four, playing their own backyard.
I know that it's a lot of pressure on them. It could be potentially matching up with Texas and the Elite Eight to decide who goes on to Texas. But even more so, I'll go with San Diego State on the other side. I'll go with Kansas State over Michigan State. Shh, don't tell anybody. I know you're not used to hearing that from me, JR. And then the last team is Gonzaga, the sneaky team. Everybody is kind of X'ed and crossed them off of the list in terms of making it to the Final Four and winning a national championship because they've disappointed so many people in the last X amount of years.
This could be the year that they do it and it wouldn't surprise me the least bit. OK, Deshaun, appreciate you checking in with us from New York City. Enjoy the basketball at the world's most famous arena tomorrow. Where can people follow you and keep up with all of your tweets and musings? No other place. At Tate Take Hoops, T-A-K-E-H-O-O-P-S. We call it where basketball lives. The most entertaining, most informational, most educational basketball content on the planet in the form of a podcast. Finding no other place than Tate State.
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